ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Elms College men's volleyball team, which reached the 2017 NECC Championship game, was picked to finish second in the New England Collegiate Conference in 2018, the league announced in its annual preseason coaches poll on Friday.
The Blazers return three 2017 First Team All-NECC selections, including the 2017 NECC Defensive Player of the Year Audrye Alejandro. Alejandro led the conference with 301 digs and 3.24 digs per set. Fellow 2017 First Team All-NECC selections, Gabriel Reis Levy and Daniel Bondarovsky also return for the Blazers. Levy led the conference in kills per set, with 3.59, while Bondarovsky tallied 258 kills, good for third in the conference. Elms' head coach Sheila Gisbrecht is coming off of a women's season in which her team captured the 2017 NECC Championship, with Gisbrecht also nabbing the Coach of the Year award.
Defending champions Endicott College top the 2018 NECC Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll, collecting 36 points, including six first place selections. The Gulls, led by five-year head coach George Chapell, will look to win their sixth straight NECC Championship. They return key contributors from last year's championship team, highlighted by the reigning NECC Men's Volleyball Rookie of the Year, and First Team All-NECC selection, Bryn Lipton. Lipton finished his rookie campaign second in the conference in kills with 315, while landing third in kills per set with 3.12. Also returning for the Gulls is 2017 Second Team All-NECC selection, Troy Riorden.
Finishing third in the polls with 23 points is Eastern Nazarene College. The Lions will look to first-year head coach, Derek Schmitt, to lead a squad that reached the 2017 NECC Playoffs in only its first year of varsity competition. Eastern Nazarene returns All-NECC second team selection Kenny Sorensen, who led his team with with 225 kills and 203 digs. Sorenson's 2.78 digs per set was good for second in the conference.
Newbury College was voted into the fourth slot, with a total of 21 points. The Nighthawks will look to their four returning starters to make their mark in conference play, led by senior Joshua Thorne, who was fourth in the conference with 2.27 digs per set.
Southern Vermont College(15), Dean College (13), and Lesley University (8) round out the 2018 NECC Men's Volleyball Preseason Poll.
2018 NECC Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Endicott – 36 (6)
2. Elms - 31 (1)
3. Eastern Nazarene - 23
4. Newbury - 21
5. Southern Vermont- 15
6. Dean - 13
7. Lesley –8
Source: NECC Athletics